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Jazz Weekly “Hudson City Suite” Review

MODERN JAZZ CREATIVITY-Jeff Babko: Crux, Scott Healy Ensemble: Hudson City Suite

February 7, 2013


Here are a pair of releases that reflect a modern attitude towards jazz. Both are lead by pianists/keyboardists, but you wouldn’t know it by listening, as each guy avoids the spotlight, keeping an attitude of team effort throughout their performance of original material. The music has a link to the past but keeps up with the times as well.

Jeff Babkouses piano, Fender Rhodes and programming as he teams up with a core of Tim Lefebvre/b and Gene Coye and a rotating ensemble of guests. Ben Wendel/ts and Walt Fowler/tp create up to date material on “The International Client” and “Angst PetsI” (with Andrew Synowiec/g) and the music is fresh and lively. Mark Isham brings loops and trumpet sounds on “Root of the Root”  and some edgy guitar is provided by Timothy  Young on “Luna.” Always swinging, but with a bit of a rock feel and adventurous spirit.

Scott Healy leads a healthy sized ensemble with  a 9-11 piece team that includes Tim Hagans/tp, Kim Richmond/as, Tom Luer/cl-ts  and  Doug Webb/reeds. The nine part suite is a thrilling panorama of sounds and moods, with a lighter than air rhythm section that floats like a kite on “Central Trolley” and “Princess Tongora.” Webb’s bari sax solo on “Koko on the Boulevard” is rich and chewy, while Richmond and Brian Swatrz/tp deliver impressive sounds on “Franklin Steps.” Excellent, sophisticated and still accessible sounds.

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